Saluki women picked last for 2004 season

By Gus Bode

SIU slated no. 10 for fourth consecutive year in preseason poll

The SIU women’s basketball team was picked last in the Missouri Valley Conference for the fourth year in a row Tuesday.

The MVC announced its pre-season poll at its media day in St. Louis and the results weren’t entirely surprising. The Salukis have finished last in the conference for the past three years.


Senior guard Danette Jones said the poll results were to be expected.

“Respect is something you have to earn and we haven’t really done that the past three years,” Jones said.

Southwest Missouri State, the two-time defending State Farm MVC Tournament champ, was tabbed first with 39 votes. SMS also had two players, Kari Koch and Jenni Lingor, named to the pre-season team.

Creighton snagged second in the poll with three first-place votes. Drake, Illinois State and Indiana State completed the rest of the top five.

Dana Eikenberg, coming into her first year as SIU’s head coach, knew turning the Salukis into a winning program would be a difficult task. She has also repeatedly said challenging for the MVC title is an unrealistic goal coming into this season.

Eikenberg outlined her two most prominent goals for the team at the press conference.

“We want to work hard and work smart,” Eikenberg said. “Right now it’s pretty bottom-line in terms of goals.”


Eikenberg previously told the Daily Egyptian the possibility of SIU being represented at the conference tournament in March isn’t impossible, though.

If the Salukis make a post-season appearance this year it would be the first time since the 1998-99 season. Still, Eikenberg isn’t labeling an appearance in the tournament, where only the top eight teams in the conference can compete, as the most important goal for the women this season.

“We sat down with everyone on the team and just talked,” Eikenberg said at the conference. “We don’t want to put that much pressure on a group of athletes just to please us.”

Jones would still greatly enjoy the opportunity of making a run in the conference tournament.

“It’s something I haven’t experienced since I’ve been at SIU, and it’s something I want to do before I leave,” Jones said. “It would be a huge stride in the right direction for the team, too.”

The conference record for the Salukis last season was a dismal 2-16, the exact opposite of SMS. It’s a mirror image of the pre-season poll results – the Salukis at the bottom and the Bears at the top.

As a result, SIU has nowhere to go but up.

But the teams in the MVC will not make climbing out of the depths an easy process for the Salukis.

The teams in the MVC will provide no easy wins for the Salukis and the poll is a sign of what coaches and the media think of SIU’s chances for success.

However, Jones said pre-season polls really don’t mean anything. The SIU men were picked to finish fifth last season before posting a 17-1 conference record.

“It’s not something that makes you happy by any means,” Jones said of the poll. “But I think it will be a motivating factor.”